Wednesday, September 9, 2009

But How Does it Taste?

Anyone who’s been to a wine tasting is familiar with attention to “nose,” “clarity,” and “finish,” but what is the equivalent nomenclature for beer tasting? And how do you judge a beer? Is there a correct way to drink a beer without succumbing to the comic absurdity of Paul Giamatti nasally sniffing merlot in “Sideways’?

First of all, you need to get over some common beer myths and misconceptions. One of the biggest party fouls when serving good beer is over chilling it. Sure, a really frosty beer dripping with ice looks good on a beer commercial, but chilling a beer too much numbs your taste buds. Cool down your beer too much and you’re more likely to get the flavor of ethanol rather than the rich aromas and nuance of malts and hops.

Of course, this might be good if you’re swigging some cheap two dollar special at the local pub, but for a more nuanced craft beer like Fire Island Beer Company (FIBC) Lighthouse Ale you’ll want to taste what you’re drinking. As a rule of thumb, pale beers should be served at cooler temperatures than dark beers. Aim for around 40-50 F for light beers and 50-60 F for darker ones. FIBC Lighthouse Ale, for instance, should be served between 46-54 F to really bring out some of its more subtle flavors.

Once your beer has been chilled to just the right temperature, you’re ready to pour. When pouring tilt the bottle at a 45 degree angle until the liquid reaches the halfway point, then switch to a 90 degree angle. This will cause the beer to foam up at the top, producing delightfully perfect head (which, without dwelling on the subject too much, is generally a preferable in many aspects of life).

With your beer now poured, raise it up and look at it. As the bubbles slowly rise up from the bottom and moisture gathers around the glass, take a moment to appreciate the beer and evaluate its color. Is it dark or light? A golden amber or a stout so thick you can barely see through it? The color of a beer is important, and it’s one of the first things that brewers use to describe a beer. While you examine your brew, be sure to note how the beer fizzes, or sits sad and lifeless. Little things like this can profoundly affect the taste of a beer.

Now that you’ve evaluated the beer’s color, notice the aroma, or “nose,” rising up from the glass. Just don’t be a snob about it! There’s no need to go swishing your beer about, poking your nose in the foam. With time and practice you’ll be able to distinguish the aromatic layers built into a beer as you pour it. These include a wide variety of smells, from lighter caramel finishes like the one in FIBC Lighthouse Ale to floral bouquets, malty infusions, and even subtle roasted scents.

Just remember that it’s what you smell, not what some expert says you should smell, or what the label on the beer says. So don’t go around pawning off some so-called expert’s description of a beer’s “nose” if you don’t actually detect anything. After all, would you repeat an expert’s opinion that praised a steakhouse that actually produced stuff that tasted like donkey meat? Of course not! Beer tasting is a decadently selfish venture: it’s all about how it tastes to you.

Ok, so you’ve poured the beer, you’ve looked at the beer, and you’ve smelled the beer-- there’s only one thing left to do. It’s time to taste the beer! Because taste and smell each contribute to the sensory experience of the other, many adjectives used to describe flavor are very similar to smell. A beer can have fruity flavors, be sharp, malty, sour, sweet, stout, bitter or anything in-between.

Think of a beer as having a personality. Is the beer you’re meeting a bitter old man? Soft and sweet like a young lover? Harsh like a demanding boss? Or coy and mysterious with hidden layers of flavor like...well you get the idea. Just don’t be shy about describing your beer, because the best description is the one that conveys the essence of what you’re tasting. If you describe a beer to a friend and they snap their finger’s in an epiphany of understanding, you’re on to something. If not, keep trying and tasting. You’ll find the right words.

It’s also important to try a beer more than once before you giving it a full evaluation. Beers are like people: sometimes the ones that seem bad at first may reveal more positive aspects on a second or third meeting, while others that seem sweet and alluring are doctored concoctions that turn out to be just plain nasty. Sure, there’s always love at first sip, but sometimes the best beers need time to grow on you.

Now, before I get to the last component of a proper beer evaluation, everyone who used to be one of those kids that made snide remarks in the back of the class needs to leave. Really. Just leave the room. Because we’re adults, right? And if you’re not, what are you doing on a beer site? Get out of here kid, before I tell your parents! So, this next one’s called “mouth feel”… and it’s, well, kinda like it sounds. How does the beer feel in your mouth? Light, smooth, and slightly bubbly, or thick like flat soda pop and hard to swallow? Hey! I told some of you to leave the room! We’re talking about beer here. God, the deer on Fire Island are more mature. Honestly… So yeah. Mouth feel. How it feels in your mouth. Got it?

So that’s it. You’re equipped with the basic things to focus on when evaluating and describing a beer: color, nose, flavor, and mouth feel. Yet no matter how many words, similes or metaphors you use, or how poetic you wax on barley and malts, there will always be something missing in your description of a beer for someone who’s never tried it. It’s just a fact of life. It’s like sitting on a dock in the Pines at sunset, or walking along the soft surf of Ocean Beach at dawn-- no amount of words can ever really substitute for the real experience.

Come to think of it, all of this talk about beer has gotten me thirsty, and I think it’s about time for me to head off and get a Fire Island Beer Company Lighthouse Ale. It’s a beautiful craft beer with a light golden color, a toasty round body, and a gently carbonated caramel finish that— wait. What am I saying? You shouldn’t be listening to me! Get off your computer and try it yourself!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Why You Should Hide Your Kid’s Hannah Montana Videos from Your Over-Curious Cousin

What does Hannah Montana have in common with Fire Island?

Apparently a music video starring some of the Fire Island’s boys of summer. Using the Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana track “Party in the USA” a group of local men filmed themselves lip-sinking to the teeny-bopper’s tunes while dancing on the beach.

So what’s Miley Cyrus’ reaction to the video? Well, if you believe her “tweet” to Perez Hilton, she’s apparently “obsessed” with the video!

To see the clip, and develop your own “obsession,” check out the link below.
(Despite popular belief, over-consumption of Fire Island Lighthouse Ale had absolutely nothing to do with the production of this clip--but it might have helped!)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

House Passes $850,000 Bill to Spiff-Up Fire Island Ferries

Whoever said politicians don’t have their priorities straight? Recently, the U,S. House of Representatives appropriated $850,000 to renovate the Fire Island ferry terminals at Ocean Beach and Bay Shore.

To solve a reoccurring flooding problem, $600,000 was set aside to replace the Ocean Beach terminal, with the remaining $250,000 going toward repairs to the Bay Shore Terminal.

“Our ferries are not only a great way to get tourists to the beautiful Fire Island beaches, they are also essential to small businesses on both sides of the bay,” Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) said.

But don’t get too excited yet. Although the Senate appropriations bill passed committee in July, it still needs to come to a full Senate vote.

In the mean time, is it really too much to ask Rep. Steve Israel to lobby President Obama for another Beer Summit? Maybe on Fire Island? After all, he had a Bud Light last time! We’re pretty sure that Fire Island Beer Company’s Lighthouse Ale can beat that!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Smoky Sunday Blues, Beer & Bites

Spend a sultry summer Sunday afternoon with Karen and David Waltuck celebrating the magical mingling of blues, artisanal brews, and smoked foods on August 16. Chanterelle is proud to partner with The Jazz Gallery to feature live performances by Marvin Sewell, Saunders Sermon, and Doug Wamble. Paired with each blues artists will be hand-crafted local beers from smooth, light caramel Fire Island “Lighthouse Ale” to dark and creamy Keegan “Mother’s Milk” Stout together with David’s riffs on classic American smoked foods including Cold Smoked Corn Chowder, Tea Smoked Duck with Potato Salad and Warm Smoked Oysters and Bacon.

This finale Sunday Salon of 2009 will mark the last day that Chanterelle is open to the public before closing this summer in preparation for its 30th anniversary this fall. To usher in its third decade, the Waltucks will refresh the restaurant, with the addition of an intimate bar and an expanded menu. The last day for general reservations is Friday, August 14.

Smoky Sunday Blues, Beer & Bites, with brews presented by Andrew Reed, Craft Beer Specialist of Manhattan Beer and Yvon Pasquarello and Ari Meisel from Fire Island Brewery.

Date: Sunday, August 16

Time: 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Location: Chanterelle, 2 Harrison Street (at Hudson)

Cost: $65 per person, including tax and gratuity

Reservations: contact Paul Case at 212-966-6960 or or visit for more information.

Fire Island Beer Company Lighthouse Ale Served at the Holy Family Festival

Fire Island Beer Company Lighthouse Ale will be served at the Holy Family Festival in Hicksville, New York this week.

Running from Wednesday, August 12th through Saturday, August 15th this great community event features rides, food, and fun for the whole family. The Festival is sponsored by the Parish of the Holy Family in Hicksville, New York.

For directions and event times, be sure to visit:

Friday, July 31, 2009

North Fork Craft Beer, BBQ & Wine Festival

Voted North Fork Event of the Year in 2007, the North Fork Craft Beer, BBQ & Wine Festival returns to the picturesque Martha Clara Vineyard on August 8, 2009. The event will showcase 50 of the finest craft breweries from across the country and will pair them with outstanding BBQ prepared by Maple Tree BBQ and award-winning wines from Martha Clara Vineyards and other local wineries. Attendees will have the opportunity to sample over 100 of the nation’s finest micro-brews, including Fire Island Beer Company Lighthouse Ale, recently named Official Beer of Summer by NBC New York (5/09).

For more information, please visit the official North Fork Craft Beer Festival Website:

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Making of a Brew: See the Story Behind the Beer Inspired by Fire Island!

Talking seagulls? You betcha! Check out the new video from the guys at Fire Island Beer Company, and learn the story behind the beer:

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Pines Party Weekend 2009

Fire Island Beer Company will be a sponsor at the upcoming Pines Party Weekend!

With more sun, surf, and sand than you can shake your long board at, the Pines Party Weekend is a legendary celebration of surf culture on Fire Island.

Friday, July 24 kicks off the event with a VIP party entitled “Where the Boys Are!” featuring a musical tribute to classic Muscle Beach Movies starring hunky hardbodies like Nick Adams, Marty Thomas, and Max von Essen. But don’t get too hot and bothered—Fire Island Beer Company Lighthouse Ale will be on tap to cool you down!

Following this up at 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 25th the Pines Party opens to the public, with “Endless Summer.” Using the beach as an all access dance floor, DJ Paulo will rock your board shorts with a tidal wave of heavy beats, while Berlin’s DJ Mickey Friedmann spins it down with the cool progressive feel of an electric sunset—which is good because the music doesn’t stop until the break of dawn.

But don’t be fooled, this isn’t some low-tech dance around a bonfire with your friends. The boys over at the Pines Party are pulling out all the stops with a state-of-the-art sound system, a light show, and a VIP viewing deck that lets you enjoy the beach babes with the comfort of a private bar and bathroom.

The Summer may be endless, but the Pines Party does have a finale, winding down on Sunday, July 26th with “Boogie Fever.” In the booth, veteran Dj Warren Gluck will round out the program, giving partiers good vibrations with upbeat mixes to keep the party going. Assisting in this final day of revelry, Fire Island Beer Company Lighthouse Ale will be offered on tap.

To find out more about the ultimate party of the summer, visit the Pines Party website at: .

Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation Fundraiser

Join Fire Island Beer Company at the 6th Annual Hamptons Happening!

The benefit will be held on July 25, 2009 from 6-9 p.m. at Susan and Louis Meisel’s beautiful Sculpture Field in Sagaponack. About 500 guests are expected at an event that will feature 25 gourmet food stations, including our very own Fire Island Beer Company Lighthouse Ale.

Funds raised at the event will go toward the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation. For more information on this event, please visit:

Fire Island Beer Company is Now on Facebook!

Be the first to know about Fire Island Beer Company special events, beers, and promotions! Join our new FaceBook page, located at: .

Our page is run by real, living human beings that actually check our page (surprise), so feel free to send us a message, some feedback on our beers, or even pictures from one of our events! We'd love to hear from you!

Monday, July 6, 2009

How Did “Fire Island” Get Its Name?

We get asked this all the time, but the truth is that the precise origin of Fire Island’s name is often disputed. It’s kind of like asking grandpa how he met grandma- each story comes out a little bit different and nobody seems to have been around to verify any of them. Originally, the Native Americans called the Island "Sictem Hackey," or “Land of the Secatogues” (the name of the tribe located in Bay Shore, New York). One historian has suggested that its current name comes from a corruption of the Dutchword “vijf,” (“five”) or “vier” (“four”), referring to the number of islands near the Fire Island inlet.

Others say its name comes from the fires built along the sea’s edge by pirates intent on luring ships to their destruction along the shallow sandbars for looting and pillaging. The stories just get stranger from here, with some suggesting that the name comes from the fiery-looking foliage in autumn and others insisting (with a straight face) that the name comes from the “burning” rash people get from the Island’s abundant poison ivy (ouch!). So basically, if it was grandpa telling the story, you would have fed him an extra helping of plumb pudding and left the table long ago. We’ve found that it’s just better to take a nice long swig of Fire Island Beer Company Lighthouse Ale and move along.

Name aside, Fire Island has gradually become known as a calm and comfortable atmosphere in which a wide array of individuals, from families, to couples, to young revelers can come to relax and vacation. Over the years, Fire Island has woven itself into the fabric of pop culture, and numerous films have been shot on the location, including, Frank Perry’s "Last Summer" and "Returning Mickey Stern." In the world of music, France Joli even jump-started her career in 1979 on Fire Island whenDonna Summer cancelled her performance at the last minute, and Joli stepped in to wow an ocean-side crowd of over 5,000 people with her song "Come to Me."

Now Joli’s big break may be an unusual phenomenon, but in a calm fun-loving atmosphere like Fire Island anything seems possible. And that’s why we came up with Fire Island Beer Company’s Lighthouse Ale. We wanted a beer that’s as cool and smooth as Fire Island, with a light caramel finish for just a touch of the playfulness found off shore. We know it’s hard to take a break among the hustle and bustle of the big city, but the next time you have a chance, pop open a cold bottle of Fire Island Beer Company Lighthouse Ale and take a time-out to imagine the pure white sands and softly rolling waves of our little island.

Beer. People. They’re both better when they’re chilled.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fire Island: A Little Background on the “Other New York”

Just off the southern shore of Long Island is a place where people are welcoming, laid-back and casual. You never have to second guess people because they say what they mean, and when someone stops and asks you how you are doing, they’re not looking for a one word response. Maybe it’s the vast wooded areas populated by thousands of deer, maybe it’s the cool sound of the waves at night that you can hear from almost any point on the Island, and maybe its just the people themselves, but something’s different out on Fire Island, and it’s this same tranquility that Fire Island Beer Company tries to put into every beer.

Although the atmosphere of Fire Islandis miles apart from the work-a-day world of Manhattan, it’s really just a short trip from one island to the other. Visitors can take any one of three ferries from Long Island, for a quick, twenty-minute trip toFire Island. You won’t find cars out here, but don’t stress, most of the Island is only a quarter mile wide, with thirty-two miles of beautiful, unspoiled white-sand beaches just a walk away. In fact, “The Shack,” the small market and burger place where the original Fire Island Beer Company brew was conceived, is just off this beach. So it’s not surprising that hungry surfers, tourists, fisherman, and locals alike often mix together there to enjoy a frosty brew and burger while dipping their toes in the Atlantic.

Walking Fire Island is like a trip to the distant past, with majestic dunes and wooded areas boasting a wide variety of wildlife. Under the protection of the National Park Service, a forty-acre forest runs the length of the Island, inhabited by red foxes and white tailed-deer. The prominence and beauty of this deer is celebrated in the imagery on the label of Fire Island Beer Company’s Lighthouse Ale.

The other iconic image in the background of Fire Island Beer Company’s Lighthouse Aleis, of course, the historic Fire Island Lighthouse, located on thesouthern shore of Fire Island. A brick structure standing 168 feet tall with 182 winding steps, the Fire Island Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse on Long Island. During the last century this lighthouse served as an important landmark for transatlantic ships heading toward the New York Harbor, and for many European Immigrants this was the first thing they saw when coming to America.

Nowadays the lighthouse is no longer in use, but there’s still that unique and intangible “something” that guides people from all over to the unique beauty of Fire Island. It’s with this inspiration, and the memories of lazy days on the beaches, hikes through shaded glades, and good conversation with friends at The Shack, that we brew every bottle of Fire Island Lighthouse Ale. There’s something different out here, and it’s this difference that’s the flavor of each of our beers.

Fire Island Beer Company Lighthouse Ale: “Craft Beer from The Other New York.”™

An interactive satellite view of the Fire Island Lighthouse:

View Larger Map

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pig Roast to Support Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

Join the Chance House ( ) for a pig roast this July 4th on Kismet, Fire Island to support Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America ( The Chance House will cover the cost of the pig and food, and kegs of beer will be donated this year by the Fire Island Beer Company (

Attendees to this event are asked to give a $10 voluntary donation, 100% of which will go
directly to IAVA. Through small donations like this, the IAVA is able to help ensure that returning soldiers are properly provided for with the services they deserve. We hope that you’ll agree that this is an appropriate way to thank our soldiers for their service and dedication on our nation’s Independence Day. For more information on all of the great work that the IAVA does, please visit:

The Chance House pig roast begins at 5:30 on Saturday, July 4 on Kismet, Fire Island. There will also be vegetarian rice and beans and grilled yucca for non-meat eaters.

For more information, please visit

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

NBC's "New Favorite Thing: Fire Island Lighthouse Ale"!

NBC New York's review of Fire Island Beer Company's Lighthouse Ale calls the beer "delicious" and their "new favorite thing," stating that if their "hunch is correct, [it] becomes the official beer of summer 2009"!

To read the full article,

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Art of Craft Beers

They say that making a craft beer takes a certain kind of artistry, blending the subtle sweetness of malts with the bitter balance of hops. Add to this a diversity of brewing techniques, and you get a true work of art in a bottle, ready for consumption from the discerning connoisseur (and people that just plain like beer!). But while sipping a frosty craft beer like Fire Island Beer Company’s Lighthouse Ale, have you ever taken the time to look at the artwork on the bottle?

In a very special show entitled “Design, Drink and Be Merry: The Craft Brew Art Movement,” selected craft breweries will have the opportunity to showcase the imaginative and creative artwork that goes into their visual identity at the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts. Joining the show this year is the artwork from Fire Island Beer Company’s Lighthouse Ale. This design features the signature Fire Island Lighthouse in the background with a deer somewhat whimsically drifting along the foreground in a boat. The lighthouse depicted on the label is the well known structure standing at the tip of southern end of Fire Island, which in days gone by, welcomed immigrant ships as they came within reach of America. The deer was chosen as a logical ambassador of Fire Island Beer’s Lighthouse Ale due to their sizable population throughout the island’s natural landscape. And the boat? Well, why not? Can’t deer ride in boats?

A sampling of several other craft brewers participating this year event includes visual art from the Erie Brewing Company, with historical imagery set in Western Pennsylvania and Canada, the Atwater Block Brewery, featuring depictions of Nordic motifs and devilettes, and the East End Brewing Company, with a madcap design of a cowboy resembling a recent Republican president.

Each of these designs will be reprinted in large frames, so attendees of the show won’t have to worry about squinting at a tiny label on a bottle of beer. However, if you would like to check out the artwork in its native state, never fear, because beer from Fire Island Beer Company and each of the other featured craft brewers will be offered at a beer tasting event during the showing.

Photo by Michael Mastroianni

This year’s Design, Drink and Be Merry exhibition will be held on Saturday, June 27th at 5 p.m. at the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts in Reading, Pennsylvania. Tickets can be purchased for $20 in advance and $25 at the door. For more information, please call 610.374.4600 or visit the event website at: .

What is a “Craft Beer”?

Fire Island Lighthouse Ale is a “craft beer,” but what exactly does that mean?

According to the Brewers Association a craft beer is traditionally a malted beverage produced by a brewery with an annual production of less than 2 million barrels. To differentiate between smaller labels own by larger beer manufacturers, less than 25% of the craft brewery can be owned or controlled by an industry member who isn’t a craft brewer. The relatively small output of craft breweries means that they can spend more time and attention to the flavor and unique quality of their brews.

However, don’t be fooled by their relatively small size, because they still brew a lot of beer! In 2008 alone the craft brewing industry produced nearly 8.6 million barrels of craft beer. That’s over 2.1 billion pints for thirsty beer fans!

And even in the current economy, the craft brewing industry is not showing any signs of slowing down, growing by 10.1% in 2008. In fact, a wide variety of craft beers currently occupy the marketplace, ranging from lighter offerings like Fire Island Lighthouse Ale to darker beers like porters.

Craft breweries have long been known for their attention to detail in formulating just the right blend of flavors for innovative new tastes unmatched by many larger domestic breweries. Fire Island Lighthouse Ale, Fire Island Beer Company’s flagship offering, has a soft carbonation and a light caramel finish for a smooth, clean taste, and the toasty round body of a classic American Ale to give it real substance. These flavors were carefully formulated over years of summer taste tests at “The Shack,” a small general store located on Fire Island. It’s this same attention in craft beers like Fire Island that’s often lacking in larger breweries today.

People frequently mistake “home brews” with “craft brews.” While many craft brews have their roots in home brewing, the production and distribution of craft beers is much larger in scope. Fire Island Lighthouse Ale actually started as a small scale homebrew created by brothers Tom and Bert and their cousin Jeff. However, like many good beers, once the word was out about this tasty brew, they expanded their production and distribution to share their beer with other craft beer lovers across New York and beyond.

In addition to making great beer, craft brewers have a reputation for being active participants in their communities. For instance, Fire Island Beer has sponsored fundraisers for Columbia University Soccer, and the environmental group EcoFabulous. Because of community involvement like this and their smaller personal approach to beer production, craft breweries are frequently seen as a more positive and sustainable business model for the brewing industry.

Which really brings us to one of the core values of craft brews: giving people a quality beer with flavor and innovation beer fans everywhere really want. So if you haven’t already checked out a craft brew like Fire Island Lighthouse Ale, you really owe it to yourself to venture out from the boring big three major breweries and try something new. Because real beer fans know: big beer flavor often comes from small microbreweries.

Craft Brews on the Rise Despite Economy

The economy may be down but craft beer sales are experiencing a major upswing, growing by nearly 10.1% in 2008.

The reason?

Well, it’s all a question of value. When you have less money you start to really evaluate what you’re getting in a product. Over the years consumers have been swamped with the same watery tasting lagers that are either flavorless, or skunky and bitter. People want something new and original, something with a full body and a clean, rich flavor they can savor and really talk about. Craft beers like Fire Island Beer Company’s Lighthouse Ale do this in spades. Fire Island Beer Company and its craft beer compatriots care about the consumer and work hard to develop the perfect balance of hops, malts, and accompanying flavors to make each sip a symphony for the palate.

Fire Island Beer Company’s formulas were developed through years and years of taste testing and reformulating down at “The Shack,” a small summer shop selling burgers and beer. Like everything on Fire Island, The Shack was always a laid back place where everybody could relax, kick back, and enjoy what eventually became the tasty brew known as Fire Island Lighthouse Beer. Following in the footsteps of quality craft beers, Fire Island Beer Company wasn’t conceived with money or product placement in mind. Instead, it was just two brothers and a cousin motivated by a passion for good brews, and a desire to make something as laid back, and just plain fun as Fire Island. But somewhere in-between bringing keg after homebrewed keg to parties, and having friends and family request the beer even more than mom’s famous triple chocolate cheesecake (you have to try it!), the Fire Island Beer Company founders started to think that they might have something.

And they did.

But that’s how it works with any really good product. The consumer drives the sales. And isn’t that the way it should be? Music lovers have known for years that some of the most independent artists are on independent labels, so why shouldn’t beer lovers have a variety of choices from small microbrews?

After all, smaller companies have more attention to detail and make better beer. And now that people really watching their money and choosing quality products with more added value, beer drinkers everywhere are letting their voices be heard.

So the next time you think about choosing some watered down draft that is sure to be more filling but completely unsatisfying, do your mouth a favor and choose a quality craft beer like Fire Island Company’s Lighthouse Ale.

Fire Island Beer: it’s the kind of beer you want to have a beer with, and the kind of value that your bankbook will love.